URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/211.html

Hibiscus

What is it?

Hibiscus is a plant. The flowers and other parts of the plant are used to make medicine.

People use hibiscus for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increasing the production of breast milk, infections, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for HIBISCUS are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • High blood pressure. Most early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea for 2-6 weeks decreases blood pressure by a small amount in people with normal or slightly high blood pressure. Some early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea might be as effective as the prescription drugs captopril and more effective than the drug hydrochlorothiazide for reducing blood pressure in people with slightly high blood pressure.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels. Some early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea or taking hibiscus extract by mouth can lower levels of cholesterol and other blood fats in people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes. However, other research shows that hibiscus does not improve cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Bladder infections (urinary tract infections). Early research has found that people with urinary catheters living in long-term care facilities who drink hibiscus tea have a 36% lower chance of having a urinary tract infection compared to those not drinking tea.
  • Colds.
  • Constipation.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Heart disease.
  • Irritated stomach.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nerve disease.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate hibiscus for these uses.

How does it work?

The fruit acids in hibiscus may work like a laxative. Some researchers think that other chemicals in hibiscus might be able to lower blood pressure; reduce levels of sugar and fats in the blood; decrease spasms in the stomach, intestines, and uterus; reduce swelling; and work like antibiotics to kill bacteria and worms.

Are there safety concerns?

Hibiscus is LIKELY SAFE for most people in when consumed in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately in medicinal amounts. The possible side effects of hibiscus are not known.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine. Side effects of hibiscus are uncommon but might include temporary stomach upset or pain, gas, constipation, nausea, painful urination, headache, ringing in the ears, or shakiness.

Diabetes: Hibiscus might decrease blood sugar levels. The dose of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Low blood pressure: Hibiscus might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking hibiscus might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Hibiscus might affect blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control difficult during and after surgery. Stop using hibiscus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Major
Do not take this combination.
Chloroquine
Hibiscus tea might reduce the amount of chloroquine that the body can absorb and use. Taking hibiscus tea along with chloroquine might reduce the effectiveness of chloroquine. People taking chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of malaria should avoid hibiscus products.
Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Hibiscus might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking hibiscus along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Hibiscus might lower blood pressure. Taking hibiscus along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Do not take too much hibiscus if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.
Minor
Be watchful with this combination.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)
Drinking a hibiscus beverage before taking acetaminophen might increase how fast your body gets rid of acetaminophen. But more information is needed to know if this is a big concern.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include nicotine, chlormethiazole (Heminevrin), coumarin, methoxyflurane (Penthrox), halothane (Fluothane), valproic acid (Depacon), disulfiram (Antabuse), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include ketamine (Ketalar), phenobarbital, orphenadrine (Norflex), secobarbital (Seconal), and dexamethasone (Decadron).
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include proton pump inhibitors including omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C8 (CYP2C8) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include amiodarone (Cardarone), paclitaxel (Taxol); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) and ibuprofen (Motrin); rosiglitazone (Avandia); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), flecainide (Tambocor), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), ondansetron (Zofran), paroxetine (Paxil), risperidone (Risperdal), tramadol (Ultram), venlafaxine (Effexor), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include acetaminophen, chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte), ethanol, theophylline, and anesthetics such as enflurane (Ethrane), halothane (Fluothane), isoflurane (Forane), methoxyflurane (Penthrane).
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Hibiscus might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Using hibiscus along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some of these medications.
Some medications changed by the liver include alprazolam (Xanax), amlodipine (Norvasc), clarithromycin (Biaxin), cyclosporine (Sandimmune), erythromycin, lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin) and many others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
Hibiscus may lower blood pressure. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have this same effect might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low. Some of these products include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Hibiscus might lower blood sugar levels. Taking it along with other herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar might increase the risk of blood sugar becoming too low. Some herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar include alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For high blood pressure: Hibiscus tea made by adding 1.25-10 grams or 150 mg/kg of hibiscus to 150 mL to 500 mL of boiling water has been used. The tea is steeped for 10-30 minutes and taken one to three times daily for 2-6 weeks.

Other names

Abelmoschus Cruentus, Agua de Jamaica, Ambashthaki, Bissap, Erragogu, Flor de Jamaica, Florida cranberry, Furcaria Sabdariffa, Gongura, Groseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, Hibisco, Hibiscus Calyx, Hibiscus Cruentus, Hibiscus Fraternus, Hibiscus Palmatilobus, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica Sorrel, Karkade, Karkadé, Lo Shen, Oseille de Guinée, Oseille Rouge, Pulicha Keerai, Red Sorrel, Red Tea, Rosa de Jamaica, Rosella, Roselle, Sabdariffa Rubra Sour Tea, Sudanese Tea, Te de Jamaica, Thé Rose d'Abyssinie, Thé Rouge, Zobo, Zobo Tea.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 12/21/2017